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Notices of Intended Prosecution (NIPs)

notice of intended prosecution

Have you received a Notice of Intended Prosecution?

If you have received a notice of intended prosecution you may be wondering what it is,  read on. The law (Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988) requires that, for a person to be convicted of certain road traffic offences, he or she must

  • be warned at the time that he might be prosecuted for an offence, or,
  • be served with a summons within 14 days of the commission of the offence, or,
  • within 14 days of the commission of the offence he, or the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned, must be served with a NIP.

Can I be prosecuted if I am not notified within the 14 days of a driving offence?

If none of the above occur it is a bar to conviction. However bear in mind that the police have a ‘get out’ clause. If the police can show they acted with ‘reasonable diligence’ in trying to trace the accused/registered keeper but could not have been expected to do so within the time limit, then the limit may be found by a court not to apply.  Also if the accused makes it difficult for the police to trace him this can also be taken into account.  For example, if the registered keeper changed address but failed to notify the DVLA or the vehicle was in a company name rather than that of the driver.  Such circumstances could mean that the 14 day time limit would be held not to apply.  

Does a notice of intended prosecution apply to all driving offences?

There is a long list of offences to which this section does apply including driving dangerously, without due care and attention, speeding and certain offences of failing to comply with traffic signs. However, please note that the requirement to serve a notice within 14 days does not apply if the vehicle concerned was involved in an accident at the time of the offence.  By the way, don’t assume you will be able to avoid a prosecution just because the first you know of an allegation is when you are summoned to court for an offence months after the 14 day time limit has expired; if the police claim a notice was served by first class post it is presumed it was unless or until the contrary is proved ie there is a rebuttable presumption of good service.  In practice, this would probably mean you could only overcome this by attending your trial and giving evidence in your defence that the notice was not served.

Must a notice of intended prosecution comply with certain requirements?

Yes, the notice must comply with certain requirements including specifying the nature of the alleged offence and the time and place where it was alleged to have been committed.  NIPs are used in countless cases as it is very common for offences to be alleged after the event (for example, when a matter is subsequently reported to the police or when there is photographic evidence which leads the police with the details of the registered keeper but the vehicle was not stopped by the police at the time).  This often explains why NIPs are often served together with a notice requiring the registered keeper to identify the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence.

What is Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988?

Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act, 1988, gives the police power to require the registered keepers of vehicles, to whom the section applies, to identify the driver at the time of an alleged offence.  Failure to do so, within 28 days of service of the requirement, is itself an offence (subject to certain statutory defences).  I have come across clients who have failed to respond to such notices in an attempt, for example, to avoid simple speeding convictions which would have been dealt with by way of a fixed penalty, such as 3 penalty points and a fine, only to find that failure to comply with the requirement to identify the driver is regarded as a more serious offence punishable by 6 penalty points and a fine!  Then, of course, there is the true story of Chris Hughne and Vicky Pryce (husband and wife, as they once were,) where she accepted responsibility for offences committed by him to save him from the imposition of penalty points only to result in them both, eventually, being sent to prison for trying to cheat the system.  

So, beware, don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of carefully considering any NIPs/S172 requirements that you may receive.  Failure to complete them honestly/properly can land you in much more trouble than you might expect!

If you need help or advice as to whether you have a defence or as to how best to complete an NIP please don’t hesitate to give me a ring.

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9 thoughts on “Notices of Intended Prosecution (NIPs)”

  1. Hi,

    Notice of Intended Prosecution received on day 6 from the date of offence.
    Date of Offence: 25 April 2021.
    Alleged Offence: Speeding – Exceed 30mph
    Speed: 50mph (Gatso Camera)
    NIP arrive on 1 May 2021.

    Car licence since 12/2008. Motorbike licence since 09/2018 (No traffic offence, no accident history. Zero points. 1st NIP)

    What are the fine and penalty? How to avoid points and increased insurance premium? Will I lose my driving licence for a motorbike offence? What’s your best advice? Many thanks

    1. The NIP was received within the 14 day time limit and so you probably have little option other than to admit the offence. Usually you would receive 4-6 penalty points and a fine. The level of fine depends on your circumstances. There is no way to avoid the penalty points unless either they offer you a driving course, which is unlikely at this speed, or if the court imposed an immediate discretionary ban. This is unlikely but it would mean you would not receive penalty points. There is no way to avoid an increase in insurance premiums. Sorry not to have seen your questions sooner.

  2. Hello,
    I was caught speeding on the motorway on the way to Eurotunnel (late for a train). This was my first offence and was told by the policeman I will receive £100 fine and a 3 points by a post within 4-6 weeks. We are now on week 7 and so far nothing has been received. I have gone abroad for a few months and not sure when I will be back. I am worried I will miss the deadline to pay the fine. I can arrange for someone to check the post once a month, but how much longer can it take for the letter to arrive? Is there a deadline? Is there something I can do to follow up with the police directly without getting the letter? Please can you provide any advice? Thank you so much.

    1. Dear Radka,
      I know that at the time of responding to you we have already spoken on the phone. Sadly, especially during the pandemic, delays can be prolonged. You must ensure you check the post at your registered address if you realise you may receive a notice from the police. If you miss a deadline for responding you might, for example, lose your chance of a fixed penalty disposal. If you don’t respond in time to a Single Justice Notice Procedure you might be convicted in absence! So, ensure you check all post. The only think you can reasonably expect is to hear within 6 months in such a case (hopefully much sooner). Thank you for your comment.

  3. Hello,
    I have received a Nip and s172 today 09/02/2022 for speeding at A282 Dartford tunnel approach Road, offence date was 07/01/2022, can i reject it, because Nip was sent out on 08/02/2022? Thanks

    1. The answer to your question depends upon the background facts eg were you the registered keeper of the vehicle eg were the registration details up to date, including address, with the DVLA etc May I refer you to the articles I have written on this topic for a more detailed analysis as your question cannot be answered without a lot more detail.

  4. sorry for the late reply. See the drop down offences menu and click on the NIP page. This may answer your question. If not, feel free to get in touch via the contact us page.

  5. Hi,
    I received a Notice of Intended Prosecution dated 04/09/23 for an offence of speeding 07/07/23 as this is after 14 days am I right in thinking I can’t be prosecuted?
    If so what do I do with my NIP? Do I fill it in still or ignore?
    Many thanks matt

    1. The most common reason for NIPs being served after more than 14 days is that the vehicle was not registered in the
      driver’s name, or, that the driver had not kept the dvla up to date with his current address. In such circumstances
      a prosecution can still be successful. You should reply to the NIP even if it has been served outside of the deadline.

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